A frustrating day for the global health community

November 2, 2006 at 3:12 pm (Alex's Posts, Links)

Today, at their long-anticipated meeting in Guatemala, the Global Fund board neglected to elect a successor to Executive Director Richard Feachem. There’s been a lot written about this elsewhere, so I’ll direct people to the Center for Global Development for more info.

In the environment in which I work, this is an important issue, and an interesting one, because of the unique structure of the Global Fund board, which requires a high degree of consensus for the election of ED candidates and encompasses a wide range of stakeholders, from endemic country representatives to private pharma. And clearly, it’s ultimately important to everyone working in global health, as this organization is one of the major sources of funding for all AIDS, TB and malaria program throughout the world (along with the US, UK and Gates Foundation.)

But in the context of this community here, I find myself asking, is anyone else even paying attention? If you’re not an activist or a policymaker, will you ever even read the press release? Did you even know the name of the old Global Fund ED? I’ve found myself thinking about the different reaches and priorities of different players in the global health community in many different contexts over the past year or so, as I at once study to enter medical school and work on advocacy efforts targeted toward policymakers who may not even know what the word “falciparum” means. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and makes one wonder what the “global health community” even really refers to.

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5 Comments

  1. msoule said,

    I’ll post a comment on this when I am less frazzled and pre-med-school-interview BUT for now, I’d like the author of the post to let us know who they are (unless they don’t want to, in which case they really don’t have to). Thanks! -Michael

  2. acoria said,

    Oh sorry! This is by Alex – couldn’t figure out how to tag the post with my name.

  3. msoule said,

    Alex, I wasn’t aware of the dearth of leadership in the Global Fund and am glad you raised the issue. I think that this is what this space is for and hopefully as it grows, posts like yours will raise awareness in the global health community to issues that we might not be aware of but care about nonetheless.
    In response to your question about who’s included in this community, I think that it includes a huge range of people. There are people who are not necessarily tuned in to the medical side of things but who are really concerned about the community education side or the socio-economic change that must accompany a change in the current state of global health. There are also researchers whose insights are needed to provide the medicines and machines that make health provision possible. There are also politicians whose main goal is to bring home the pork to their constituents, be it in the form of bridges to nowhere or increased funding for community health work.
    To address your frustration, not all of these players are going to be aware of the lack of leadership in one of the leading global health funding structures.
    Here’s a shameless plug: that’s why we need network nodes like this blog. That way, the people who care can get more information to strengthen the work they are doing. It can be frustrating that the word doesn’t travel as far as it needs to, but we just have to work towards getting to that point.

  4. Jessica Pickett said,

    Michael,

    In response to your comment on Steve’s original post at Views from the Center, I wanted to point you towards the Financial Times or Boston Globe. Basically, the Board dispute was between the donor government representatives, who supported France’s global ambassador for HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, Michel Kazatchkine, in hopes of building close ties with the new UNITAID International Drug Purchase Facility, and all of the developing country recipients, who backed Michel Sidibe, the Malian director of country and regional support department at UNAIDS. This North-South divide reflects particularly poorly on the donors, since the whole idea of the Global Fund was to increase country ownership.

  5. sstolper said,

    Without knowing very much about the Global Fund, I must ask, what are the practical implications of a period without an executive director? Are any and all policy decisions suspended until an ED is elected? What is happening over at the Global Fund right now? It’s clear to me that I need to do my own reading about the Global Fund, but in the meantime –

    -Sam

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